In the sci-fi cult classic movie, The Blob was a gelatinous alien life form that swallowed up everything in its path. Now, according to modern science, The Blob is a mass of warm water lurking in the Pacific, and it may be responsible for the drought conditions plaguing the Western states.

Researchers in Oregon will determine The Blob’s influence on the climate in California, Oregon and Washington by running hundreds of variations of computer models. To cope with the huge amount of data the study will generate, they are enlisting “science volunteers” to let them run the simulations on their personal computers. They’ve set up a website where interested participants can sign up and get more information about the project.

“It takes about a week to run a year-long unit of climate data and the program is set up to automatically feed the results back to the scientists,” said Phil Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University. He is a principal investigator on the project. “It’s a great way for the general public to help the scientific community investigate some of the climate variations we’re seeing.”

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